British man admits he defied Singapore Covid rules to visit fiancee

Nigel Skea pleads guilty to breaking hotel quarantine to meet his now wife Agatha Maghesh Eyamalai

Nigel Skea and his wife Agatha Maghesh Eyamalai arrive in court in Singapore
Nigel Skea and his wife Agatha Maghesh Eyamalai arrive in court in Singapore. Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters
Nigel Skea and his wife Agatha Maghesh Eyamalai arrive in court in Singapore. Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters

Last modified on Mon 15 Feb 2021 12.17 EST

A British man has pleaded guilty to flouting Singapore’s quarantine rules to visit his then fiancee.

Nigel Skea, 52, from Southampton, was supposed to spend 14 days in a room at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore hotel upon entering the country, but he left and used an emergency staircase to spend the night with Agatha Maghesh Eyamalai, 39, in September.

Eyamalai, who is now married to Skea, had booked a room at the same hotel. She admitted aiding him to break the quarantine rules. Skea had left his room three times, according to court documents.

The couple faced up to six months in jail, but the prosecutor sought a shorter term, asking that Skea be jailed for four weeks and fined 1,000 Singapore dollars (£543).

The defence lawyer Dhillon Surinder Singh, who also represented Eyamalai, asked for a fine or a one-week jail term “to give him a slap on the wrist”.

Skea pleaded guilty on Monday to one charge of contravening a control order and one of failing to wear a face mask. Eyamalai admitted a single charge of conspiring to contravene a control order.

The court heard that Skea had walked up 13 flights of stairs to visit Eyamalai, who opened an emergency exit door for him.

The couple spent nine hours together, the BBC reported, and are expected to be sentenced next week.

“This is a classic tale of two lovers wanting to be together and trying to be as close as possible to each other, but breaching the law,” Dhillon said.

Last June, a group of British men living in Singapore were banned from working there again after breaking lockdown to go on a “bar crawl”. They were fined around £5,000 each.